Buyer's Guide

A Step-by-Step First Time Buyer's Guide

Buying a home is one of the most exciting milestones of your life. To prepare for this moment, it’s helpful to know what to expect during each step of the way. I’ve created this buyer’s guide to clearly describe what’s involved in this process. My aim is to take the guesswork and stress out of buying a home so that you can truly enjoy this journey. My hope is that – whether you are a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner – you’ll find this guide a valuable reference as you move forward. 



Our journey begins with an initial consultation. We’ll spend some time getting to know each other and determine whether we are a good fit. At this time I will go over the services that I provide and my fee structure. I’ll be interested to hear about the vision, goals, and ideal attributes that you have for your new home. Are you looking for a condo, townhome, or single-family home? What features do you like and dislike? What is your budget? What are your criteria and are there any deal breakers? 

This information will help me determine which communities we should explore. My goal is to make you feel confident and comfortable, knowing that I understand what you are looking for in a new home. You’ll find that I am approachable and will take the time to listen to - and act on - your concerns. We’ll work together, as a team, to  find the right  home for you.


Step 2: Decide on Your Budget

It's essential to decide on your budget—not just to determine how much the mortgage company will lend you. Often, a mortgage company will pre-approve you for more than you’re comfortable spending. Before talking to a lender, figure out the monthly payment you feel comfortable with. This involves creating a full household budget that considers any changes in expenses once you move into your new home.

We will discuss what is expected at the time of the offer, including how much you plan to put down as a deposit and what will be needed when you sign the Purchase and Sales (P&S) agreement. This will ensure we stay within your financial comfort zone and make informed decisions throughout the home-buying process.


Step 3: Get Prequalified

Loan prequalification is a crucial step in the home-buying process. It ensures you know exactly how much you can afford and strengthens your position when making an offer. While it's exciting to think about your new home, it's important to talk to a mortgage professional to find out the amount you can qualify for, taking into account your credit history, job stability, and financial background. This step not only helps you set a realistic budget but also makes your offer more attractive to sellers. I have the resources to refer you to trusted mortgage professionals who can help you get prequalified and set you on the right path.


Step 4: Choose a Real Estate Agent

While it's technically possible to shop for, view, and make an offer on a home without a real estate agent, a reputable agent will represent your interests and can significantly reduce the stress of the process. I will help identify properties you might be interested in, arrange showings, and handle the offer process. With my extensive market knowledge and 15+ years of experience, I bring a wealth of expertise to help you find the right home, whether it takes one showing or fifty!

With an approachable demeanor and a dedication to understanding and meeting your needs, I’ll advocate for your best interests every step of the way. My professional and determined approach ensures a seamless experience. Additionally, my strong community connections give you access to invaluable resources and insights. Let me take the stress off your shoulders and guide you through a smooth and efficient home-buying journey.


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Step 5: Find the Right Home

This should be the most enjoyable step of the entire process (other than moving in!). I will coordinate showings of homes you’re interested in that are within your price range. We will discuss what you like and don’t like, and I will pay close attention to details. With my background in construction, and my extensive knowledge of the homes and neighborhoods in the Greater Boston area, I bring a unique edge to the real estate market, allowing me to evaluate homes effectively. While you’re looking at the layout, I’ll be assessing the structure, windows, mechanicals, and more to ensure the home meets your needs.

Seeing properties in person and attending open houses is valuable because it allows you to get to know different neighborhoods and their proximity to necessities like schools and grocery stores. My personable approach and unique knowledge in evaluating the location and condition of a house will be invaluable. I will help you understand potential shortcomings and point out less-than-obvious issues with the homes we visit, assisting you in making an informed decision. My goal during this step is to broaden your geographic scope and provide honest, insightful guidance to help you find the right home for your family.


Step 6: Make an Offer

Once you have decided to make an offer on a home, I will help you understand its value by showing you comparable homes that are under contract and sold. We will discuss the offer thoroughly, reviewing contingencies, dates, deposits, and how well it aligns with your goals. I will guide you through making any counter-offers and negotiating terms. As an expert negotiator with over 15 years of experience and over $500 million in transactions, I know how to secure the best possible outcome for you. Together, we will ensure your offer is competitive and appealing to the seller while meeting your needs and goals.


Step 7: Have the Home Inspected

In most cases, our offer will be contingent on having the home inspected to ensure there is no major structural damage or significant repairs needed. We will arrange this together, and you can schedule it within days of making an offer. If there are no major issues, we will move on to the next step in the process If there are significant concerns, we will renegotiate the offer based on what needs to be fixed, or you can withdraw the offer.


Step 8: Finalize Your Financing

Once your offer has been accepted and the home passes inspection, it's time to return to the mortgage lender who pre-approved or pre-qualified you and finalize your mortgage. You will be presented with various options based on your unique financial situation, including fixed-rate, variable-rate, 15-year, 30-year, or special programs such as VA loans or FHA loans. 


Step 9: Get Ready to Close

Once you've accepted an offer, we'll collaborate with a real estate attorney to draft the purchase and sales agreement (P&S). Following the P&S, we'll outline the necessary steps leading up to closing. Your lender will conduct an appraisal to ensure the purchase price aligns with similar recently sold homes and request any additional paperwork for underwriting, which may involve further financial scrutiny.

During this period, maintain your current financial status—avoid new credit, job changes, or missed payments—as these could impact your mortgage approval.

The seller will address any required repairs from the inspection. I'll guide you through each step, coordinating with attorneys and managing all milestones to facilitate a smooth transaction.

Three business days before closing, you'll receive a Closing Disclosure detailing all transaction costs. Compare this carefully with your initial Loan Estimate to avoid any surprises.

Ensure you secure homeowners insurance that covers the full replacement cost of the home, effective from the closing date.


Step 10: Close

Receiving a "clear to close" indicates all loan conditions have been met, and your lender is ready to finalize the mortgage by preparing documents and wiring funds. At this final stage, you'll get the Final Closing Disclosure, which should be checked for any last-minute changes. Completing the required paperwork will officially make you the homeowner!

We'll also obtain a vendor list that will ensure a smooth transfer of things such as utilities, trash and ongoing maintenance.

Before closing, you’ll do a final walk-through with me. We will make sure to check that everything’s as agreed upon — for example, that all the appliances that are supposed to be included in the sale are still there and any repairs have been completed by the seller.


After signing the final paperwork and completing the purchase, your closing attorney will record your new home along with the lender if any at the registry of deeds in your County. You are now the proud owner of a new home! With everything in place, you'll be all set to move into the home of your dreams and start this exciting new chapter!

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"We first met Peggy years ago at an open house and immediately connected given her knowledge of the area, patience, and kindness. We maintained a relationship and when it was time to buy in earnest immediately reached out. Throughout those interven..."

- H&M

"Working with Peggy Dowcett to buy a home is both a relaxing and fulfilling process. Peggy’s calm and professional demeanor, along with her high level of experience and determination to get the deal done exceptionally well, makes her such a true pl..."

- RB

"Working with Peggy Dowcett truly exceeded all of our expectations as our realtor. It was not transactional with Peggy, rather it was a partnership and she was there to make it work for us. It felt like it was her personal mission to make us feel l..."

- Rachel & Jason K.


Peggy has lived in the area since 1992 and has enjoyed raising her family in the community. She brings her considerable attention to detail, commitment to our clients, broad network of connections, professional and technological skills.

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